Monday, March 21, 2005

The Curse of Von Esens (III): Muis and OLAFant

Jules Muis, the Dutch ex-Director of the EU Commission's Internal Audit Service, hit the headlines last week with a leaked email reported originally in the Daily Telegraph (London).

"Ten years after the Commission first failed to get normal audit blessing on its accounts and controls, it still does not have a proper accountability construct. This extraordinary situation is the major cause of the chronically sordid state of quality accounting," he said.

Muis referred to the bullying of the EU Commission and its disgusting treatment of those who point out the fraud and corruption that thrives under its rule. He described the Commission's power "to trash an individual... if it so wished, at taxpayers' expense."

Muis was referring to such cases of abuse as Paul van Buitenen, the Dutch whistleblower whose revelations led to the resignation of the entire Commission in 1999; Hans-Martin Tillack, the German reporter imprisoned by Belgian police after a dawn raid on his flat in Brussels based on fabricated evidence; and lately, Marta Andreasen, the Spanish EU accountant who described the EU budget as "an open till waiting to be robbed."

Muis - who came from the World Bank to try and create some order in the EU's disgraceful accounting procedures, has himself been threatened by EU officials, he says, with the bloodcurdling words, "We have ways of breaking people like you."

After days of negative coverage, the EU Commission has no comment to make on these scandalous and deeply compromising revelations. All the blog could find today was the reference to a meeting with The Court of Auditors (which actually happened last Thursday) at which it was agreed "to improve results rather than concentrate on listing errors" - words designed to sound mature and statesmanlike, one supposes, were it not for the inconvenient fact that improved results can only arise from open admission and correction of errors. They must be half hoping that the fuss settles down and everyone forgets all about it until the next shitload of scandal hits the proverbial fan. That's how it usually happens.

But in this Year of Destiny for the draft European Consitution - which, in a spasm of lunatic starry-eyedness, has been launched by the EU Commission into outer space on a doomed, lonely mission to seek extraterrestrial approval - things are different.

And indeed, if the blog's Curse of Von Esens has anything to do with it, these matters will not soon be forgotten.

The people at OLAF and the enforcers over at the EU Commission should quickly curb their hubristic contempt for decency, fair play and transparent accounting procedures, and abandon their addictions to bullying, power-politicking and bureaucratic obfuscations - all things most calculated to bring down the Curse of Von Esens.

In the past few weeks alone, Hervé Gaymard and Heide Simonis have felt the righteous lash of the Curse's rage. OLAF and the EU Commission may seem broad targets, but the Curse always finds its own ways to scourge and humble such self-serving, arrogant holders of power.

EUROPA - Press Room - The European Commission's on line Press Room

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